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Handling P-Contaminated Property

by fatweb

John Shingleton

Director of Onlinelawyers

As a lawyer, I am amazed at the number of contracts for purchase of rental or ex rental properties that are not subject to a meth test contractual condition. Yet, we are seeing more and more incidents of house purchases going bad due to historical P contamination.
Just recently, the NZ Herald further reported that an analysis of waste water in Auckland confirmed P was the number one choice of drug in Auckland.
Let’s not kid ourselves in thinking Christchurch is not the same.
For a purchaser, the ramifications of buying a contaminated property can be devastating both financially and health wise.
I have read several articles on the health risks and they are scary. Other than the immediate effects such as burns or fatal scarring to the lungs, if exposed to a high amount of P contaminants – spare a thought to emergency services personnel – there are insidious risks from long term exposure to medium levels of contamination.
These include cancer, damage to the central nervous system, heart, kidney and liver damage, as well as memory loss and psychosis. The damage to young children bares not thinking.
The cost of cleaning up contamination is also very high. From what I have read, the costs can range from several thousand dollars to more than a hundred thousand dollars.
So, what should you do, or look out for?
First, if buying a rental or ex rental, please don’t muck around. Always make the contract subject to a meth test.
Second, for other property purchases, use common sense. A quick Google search will provide you with plenty of information on what to look for.
But, again, who knows what previous owners have done with the property. Just because the vendors are a nice-looking family does not mean there has not been historical meth use. Or, the vendors might have hidden tell-tale signs.
I should also mention that if you own a property and suspect you may have bought a P house, you really need to get the house checked. The health risks are too high.
If you find it is contaminated, you might be able to make a claim from your insurer, depending on the wording of the policy.
According to a recent newspaper report, insurer Vero has stated that claims for P contamination have more than doubled over the past two years which was described as a worrying trend.
They also advised customers to read their policy information carefully so to be aware of entitlements and policy obligations.
Better safe than sorry!

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